Children’s week is celebrated in Serbia and worldwide with the aim to raise awareness of the rights and needs of kids.
Year after year, not a single child is born in more than 1.500 towns and other places in Serbia. Furthermore, around 1.600 villages are almost entirely deserted. You can’t hear baby laughter, see cradles or diapers there – but mere extinction. Hundreds of places have less than five inhabitants, and it is estimated that in the next 15-20 years another 1.200 settlements in this country will simply “disappear”, because there are no children there, only very old people.
There are about million and 400.000 children under 18 years old in Serbia, which makes 20 percent of the entire population. Painful facts also inform us that 140.000 children live on the very edge of poverty, while one in eight kids are poor, and there are those who literally struggle to survive. Out of 48.000 users of soup kitchen here, it is recorded that 6.221 children have been queueing every day in order to get at least one cooked meal. They grasp metal plates in their small hands, waiting in line for the only chance to eat something on that day.
Unfortunately, people remember these horrible and warning facts only on rare occasions, such as the CHILDREN’S WEEK. This is an event celebrated in Serbia in the first week of October and around the world on other days, as well. Its’ motto in my country for 2013 is:
MOM AND DAD, I WANT A BIG BROTHER OR SISTER!
The aim is to help society become aware that children should be given more attention, love, and understanding. One of the messages, also, is that this world has no future if children are not provided with bare necessities. THEY MUST HAVE THE RIGHT TO GROW UP IN SAFE AND SECURE SURROUNDING, TO LEARN, DEVELOP, PLAY AND SOCIALIZE. AND TO BE BORN. This week, in particular, can help us realize that children are our only chance.
We are talking about socially “invisible” children, who have no documents, who are not registered at birth, without citizenship; children who do not have health care because their parents cannot provide them with health insurance; children with physical and mental disabilities; children with behavioral disorders; children who are not attending primary school; children with serious and rare diseases. Novak Djokovic Foundation has met such children in many villages and places in Serbia. Through our projects such as “Schools of Life“, “Mobile toy library“, “Friendship games” (this very week on Kopaonik), by reconstructing schoolyards, purchasing didactical materials and organizing other similar activities, we try to help the children and provide all what is necessary for them to have nicer and better childhood. It is great to know other people also want to help and to give their contribution to change and improve living conditions of unprivileged children in Serbia. If we unite, we can make a small, but strong team.
Roma children and refugees are in a difficult position too. Large number of children from the Roma population lives in cardboard houses, 20 percent of them are with some kind of disabilities, and there are many who do not eat every day.
This article is a wake-up call for people of good will. Let us not think just about ourselves. Let us forget, at least for a moment, about our jobs, ambitions, protocols, meetings, Skype and Twitter. Instead, try to think about the children, their problems, needs and help them in any possible way to have a happier childhood, to grow up in better conditions. You do not have to do this only during the Children’s week, but all year long, if you are able to – every day is a children’s day and every week is children’s week.